The following message from the life of Jacob sheds light on aspects of our spiritual lives we as individuals following Christ desperately need to hear. It was not until after this message was prepared and ready to be posted, however, that I became aware there is also hidden within it a “now” word for the Bride-church that speaks loudly into the place we find ourselves corporately at the present time in the Spirit.
Many of us are discerning a spiritual season of desperate anticipation right now that is hard to vocalise. It is both the best of times and the worst of times, as the saying goes. Sensing we are on the brink of something beyond our capacity to adequately express, nevertheless corporately we are experiencing together the deep anguish of soul of those who smell, taste and hear but do not yet fully see. Our hearts cry out for the final emptiness from self, while we reach forward to grasp the fullness of Christ.
I believe the very spirit of the corporate Bridal company is wrestling with the Almighty as we seek the full revelation of the Face of Christ in our midst. Daybreak comes, and as our natural strength fails and we behold ourselves in all our desperate need for His Fullness to overtake and apprehend us, we are groaning within “I will not let You go until You bless me!”. This is crunch time for the emerging Bride. For many years now we have sought His Face and been transformed by the growing revelation of His Holiness. We have desired an encounter that would leave us free of our flesh and baptised into His death and resurrection. We have been left breathless and speechless as His manifest Presence has broken through and we have been lost in the beauty of His holiness and depths of His love. Daybreak comes, and with all that is within us we now cry out with one corporate groan, “Lord either kill me or change me, but do not leave me as I have been.” There is an intense struggle for life within us, but life as we have never before experienced it. There is an intense awareness that He MUST increase to the fullness of His stature, and we MUST decrease to emptiness of self, or we will die.
This is a critical moment for the corporate Bride, a season of violent abandonment and discomfort as our weakness is exposed and His all sufficiency overtakes us. As we wrestle and behold His Face, we are seeing with ever increasing clarity in the starkness of His Daybreak that truthfully without Christ we can do nothing, yet in Christ we can do ALL things. We are about to find out what that truly means.
Cry out, church of the Living God, cry out church of the Firstborn, cry and moan for His fullness as never before. Do not let Him go until we have taken hold of His very fullness and leave this place of wrestling changed and limping, leaning only on our Beloved. Cry out for His fullness until we have prevailed with Him and He changes our nature, changes our name (Rev. 2:17) and appears in all His glory in His spiritual temple! For daybreak comes and we must prevail! Selah!
ARE YOU LIMPING YET?
In remote desert areas of Australia where I live there are native trackers, Australian aborigines who assist the police when someone becomes lost in the desert, or is on the run from justice. These trackers can read human tracks like most of us read a book. They are so proficient at this that they can look at a pair of footprints and tell whether that person walks with a limp and which leg they are favouring. We need that kind of discernment in the church today, spiritually speaking. We need to be able to track a person’s journey in the Spirit and discern the nature of their strength. We need to understand the difference between those whose weakness is their strength, and those whose strength is their weakness. We need leaders who lead with a spiritual limp.
In Genesis 25:20-26 we read of the birth of Esau and Jacob, twin sons born to Isaac and Rebekah. Rebekah had received a word from the Lord that her two sons each represented a different nation, and that the older son would serve the younger. The scriptures reveal that Esau, the firstborn, became a “skilful hunter and a man of the field” (Gen. 25:27). He was very much an outdoors man, confident in his physical strength and athletic abilities. The scriptures say Jacob, on the other hand, had different attributes. His mother’s favourite, Jacob was noted more for his quiet, studious nature than his physical strength or ruggedness. He was “a quiet man, dwelling in tents”. The implication is that Jacob was of a gentler disposition than his brother, preferring to spend his days working around the tents, listening to the conversations of the women and observing the interactions of his community. As Jacob grew up in the communal atmosphere of the tents he had ample opportunity to study the people he lived with, including their various strengths and weaknesses of character. Esau, on the other hand, would have spent long hours and days on hunting and food gathering expeditions, and in so doing had earned the respect and admiration of his father Isaac.
One day as Esau was returning from an unsuccessful hunting expedition, Jacob sat among the tents preparing a steaming red stew. Weary from hunger, the delicious aroma was more than Esau could resist, and he begged Jacob to give him some. Immediately taking advantage of his brother’s weakness, Jacob offered to give him some of the meal in exchange for the eldest son’s birthright. The birthright custom provided that when a man died his firstborn son must inherit a double share of all his property.
And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die, so what is this birthright to me?” Then Jacob said “Swear to me as of this day”. So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Gen. 25:34)
As Jacob was her favourite, Rebekah had no doubt at some time shared with him the Lord’s word that “the older will serve the younger”. Jacob knew he could never compete with his brother in terms of physical strength, so even in his youth Jacob had determined to bring about the fulfillment of that prophecy through other means. He learned to read peoples’ weaknesses and discern their vulnerabilities. He became adept at watching and waiting for opportunity to take advantage of situations in order to get what he wanted. And like many in the church today he set out running with a genuine word from the Spirit, determined to fulfill it in the strength of his own flesh.
Having already entered into the deception that God needed help to fulfill His own word, Rebekah now joined Jacob in scheming and manipulating to bring it about. Genesis 27:5-29 relates that while Esau was away hunting, Jacob, with his mother’s assistance, disguised himself as his brother. Taking advantage of his father’s blindness, he then deliberately deceived his father into laying hands on him to bestow the blessing that belonged to Esau as the firstborn son. On Esau’s return the only blessing Isaac could give him was the blessing he had reserved for the youngest son. In his anger and sense of loss Esau openly plotted to kill his brother as soon as their father’s death and burial had taken place. As for Jacob, he now not only had a prophetic word, he also had the anointing to go with it! Fearing for his life and left with no choice but to put as much distance as possible between Esau and himself, he fled to his mother’s relatives in another part of the country.
Now Jacob was what I call a “ducker and a weaver”. When I was quite young, leaving school, my first job was in the middle of the city of Sydney. Each day I would travel by train into the city from the outer suburbs, but I was not used to the large crowds of people rushing along the streets. I would arrange to meet my friend every day in my lunch-break, but she was working right up one end of a very long street, and I was working down the other end. It was a very straight street, but between us there was a large distance and the busy lunchtime city crowds! I had only one hour for my break and because I was rather a small person I was getting considerably knocked around by the crowds as I tried to make my way quickly along that city street. Not only that, I was taking so long to get back to my work I was coming in late! But you know, before long I found a way to get through those city crowds without getting hurt and without returning late. I started to duck and to weave! I turned my small size and speed to my advantage and learned how to move swiftly in between, under and around those big hurrying people. And pretty soon I was rushing along that city street faster than anyone else. I knew where I wanted to go and I was determined to get there no matter what. I just put my head down and took off, weaving and ducking at full speed, scarcely looking up till I got to my destination!
Jacob’s life became one of ducking and weaving! He knew he would never be strong in stature or skilful in hunting like his brother, so he learned to put his own unique strengths and skills to use because he was determined no-one was going to stop him realising what had been prophetically spoken over him. He didn’t know yet he’d chosen a course that would lead him straight into a head on collision with God, because God is not needing duckers and weavers – He wants overcomers!
As Jacob was fleeing out of Esau’s reach, the scriptures say he had a dream in which he saw the angels of God ascending and descending and heard the Voice of the Lord saying “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.” (Gen. 28:12-13) So now Jacob not only has a word and an anointing, he has a prophetic experience as well! Things are certainly looking promising for Jacob. But there’s something missing.
Next we find Jacob living and prospering among his mother’s relatives. He works hard for his mother’s brother, Laban, marrying two of his daughters, and is blessed with eleven sons and a daughter. Laban in turn recognises God’s favour and anointing on Jacob, acknowledging that he and his own household have prospered solely due to Jacob’s presence among them (Gen. 30:27). After several years, however, Jacob is becoming restless working for another man’s vision and begins to dream of returning to his country to establish all that is in his own heart. And so it happens, after falling out with Laban, Jacob sets out towards home with his wives, his children, his servants and his livestock, knowing that his brother Esau will be waiting and remembering what he had done to him so many years before.
By this time Jacob has acquired an entire community bearing his own name and following his leadership. Even the angels meet him along the way (Gen. 32:1). We might say Jacob now has a prophetic word, an anointing, some amazing supernatural experiences, and an established ministry. But there is still something missing!
Still scheming and manipulating, Jacob devises a plan whereby he might placate any anger still left in his brother and sends messengers ahead to assess Esau’s mood. However, when they return warning that Esau is coming with 400 men, the Bible records that Jacob becomes “greatly afraid and distressed.” (Gen. 32:7) Jacob finds himself in a situation where his manipulative and scheming habits will not help him. Behind him is Laban and in front of him is Esau – both men he has dealt with less than honourably. Not knowing what to do, he calls out to the Lord to save him from his brother’s wrath (v.9). But God has been waiting for just this moment! God has been patiently bringing Jacob to a time and place when Jacob’s ducking and weaving would fail him. And God makes His move on Jacob!
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks”. But he said “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob”. And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed”. Then Jacob asked, saying “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” Just as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. (Gen. 32:24-31)
Now what is it the Lord wants us to see in this story of His dealings with Jacob?
Have you been called by God? Very often those called by the Lord to ministry are people of strong will, strength of resolve, determination and vision. These are the natural characteristics most would agree are needed for leadership. However, until they are one by one brought under the power of the Cross by the Holy Spirit, these are the very traits that will hinder the Hand of the Lord in our lives and ministries.
Wherever we are naturally strong God will wrestle with us until each of our natural talents and strengths has been surrendered and sanctified. Many are those who want to offer their talents and gifts to God for use in the Kingdom, failing to understand our strengths are of absolutely no use to Him as long as they provide us with an identity outside of Him. Rather than needing our talents, the Lord wants to break our dependence on them. He will contend with us over these areas of natural strength until “daybreak”. Daybreak represents revelation, when light comes, and we are able to see that every last ounce of our own strengths of personality is not enough to get us where God wants to take us! Our natural strengths are always only a substitute for His grace, and His grace is always sufficient, always enough! We do God no favours by putting our talents, gifts and natural abilities at His disposal. He can do far more with those who have faced and offered up their weakness than those who offer up their strengths (see 1 Cor. 1:27). Our natural abilities only become useful to God after we have seen them in the Light of His Countenance. It is then we understand it is the sufficiency of His Grace rather than the efficiency of our abilities that enables us to do anything at all in His Kingdom. This revelation must come to all who desire to be used by the Lord to the fullness of their potential in Him.
There is more the Lord would have us learn from Jacob’s life.
Jacob had a genuine prophetic word from God. He had heard from his mother those things God had spoken over his life, and he desperately wanted their fulfillment. But that word wasn’t enough. Jacob had an anointing – he carried the blessing of the firstborn. But it wasn’t enough. Jacob had endurance – he was able to wait patiently for that he had set his heart on, but his endurance was not enough. Jacob was running with a vision, utilising every skill and talent available to him in his determination to get where he knew God wanted him to go. But those talents weren’t enough. Jacob had no shortage of prophetic experiences. He had watched the angels of God ascending and descending in open vision at Bethel (Gen. 28:12). He had seen and heard God speak to him in night visions ( Gen 28:13, 31:11) Angelic hosts had come to meet him on his journey home. But his prophetic experiences were not enough either.
Jacob still didn’t have humility!
When Jacob looked into the Face of God, however, his nature changed forever! Jacob had contended with man for many years and prevailed. But not until that night alone in the wilderness when he had nowhere else to go, did he understand what it is to contend with God and prevail! Jacob came away from the encounter a marked man, limping as one who has contended with God and yet lived. In Genesis 32:30 we read: “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, (which means Face of God), “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved”.
God wrestled with Jacob until daylight came, the time of revelation. Having already left His mark on Jacob by dislocating his hip, at daybreak the angel of God challenged Jacob to let Him go (Gen. 32:26). But Jacob said “I will not let you go until You bless me!” Looking into the Face of God, Jacob beheld something he’d never seen before – One who was even more determined than he was! Jacob was about to find out that he could no longer stand on his own two legs or walk as he had previously walked. He could no longer rely on his own strength to uphold him. Everything had changed. So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said “Jacob.” There, face to face with God, in the stark light of daybreak, Jacob confessed his own name and for the first time knew the reality of what he was and how he had lived his life. “I am Jacob – Schemer, Supplanter, Trickster!”
The blessing Jacob received was the revelation of who he really was in light of God’s grace! God intends for each of us to receive the very same blessing, for until we too behold ourselves in the same Light, until we receive revelation of the total inadequacy and incompleteness of our own human strength, we will be in contention with God! We will be thinking and acting like we are something we are not. But when daybreak comes, He will reveal Himself to us as He is, and we will see ourselves in His true Light. Then we will only begin to understand His grace. The scripture says Jacob contended with God and prevailed. His prevailing was in his surrender. And right then and there God changed Jacob’s name and nature. Jacob became Israel, no longer one who deceives, tricks and supplants, but one who has contended with God and lived! The name means “prince with God” or “he will rule as God”. It speaks of one who manifests power and strength of a different kind and from a different source than Jacob had previously known. Thereafter Jacob no longer knew God as “the God of my fathers Abraham and Isaac”. He called Him El Elohe Israel – the God of Israel (Gen. 33:20).
Until a revelation of grace comes to us, we will always stand on our own understanding. We can have a word, a vision, an anointing, an experience and even a growing ministry, but we will burn out long before we ever achieve our potential in God. Until a revelation of grace comes to us, we will always resort to our own strength and willpower to accomplish the work of God. And we will never know His Rest. God has only one way to deal with the strength of man’s flesh and it’s the Cross. If we are serious with God, the Spirit will apply the Cross to our spiritual walk in many and diverse ways, until we understand by revelation that it is only by His Grace we stand in ANYTHING!
You can discern the footprints of one who has contended with God and surrendered – they walk with a spiritual limp. They walk with the mark of the Cross. Their strength has been spent and they have entered by grace into the Rest of God. They walk leaning on the Beloved, for they have forgotten how to walk any other way.
Are you praying for greater faith to meet the needs around you? Expect a contending with the Lord, because He wants to give you a revelation of grace. Are you setting out to be a leader among leaders? Expect to be weakened in your natural strengths, abilities and talents until you understand that by grace alone are you left standing. Are you crying out for the boldness of a lion? Boldness is born of brokenness! Expect to be a lion that limps. Expect others to overlook you, pass you by and judge you as weak and ineffective by human standards, because they surely will. Until you open your mouth, that is, and they hear the lion roar.
The scripture prophesies of Jesus He was despised and rejected of men. He had nothing about Him physically or naturally that we should desire Him (Is. 53:2) . People did not follow Him because of His good looks, His charismatic personality or His ten point plan to get to Heaven. They followed Him because the words He spoke were Spirit and life, and the gospel He brought was demonstrated by the Spirit’s power.
Are you limping yet?
…..through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…. Romans 5:1-2
Copyright 2005 Cheryl McGrath, Great South Land Ministries, Australia. This article may be copied or reproduced freely providing copyright notice and contact details remain intact.